Richard Wheeler Valentine
February 7, 1925 – June 4, 2018
Valentine, Richard Wheeler 93, of Seminole, died June 4, 2018 under the loving care of Suncoast Hospice in Pinellas Park. Son of Claude Philo and Edith Caroline Valentine, preceded in death by sisters, Edith Lindgren and Dorothy Bowles, and his wife of 58 years, Shirley Jean. He is survived by his son, Richard Jr.; daughters, Nancy and Patricia; granddaughters, Heather, Melonie, Nicole and Stephanie; grandson, Sean; great-granddaughters, Irish and Lilly; and great-grandsons, Aben, Zachary and Corbin. Towards the end of his life, just before the dementia that he battled in his final years took his memory from him, Richard told his children that “I’ve lived a wonderful life and I wouldn’t change anything. I’m ready to go and be with your mother now”. Dad, your wish has been granted, and now it is time to celebrate that life. Like many others of his generation, he grew up during the depression years, losing his father when he was very young, and while the family struggled to make ends meet, they made it through those dark years together. Not long after he graduated from Amundsen High School in Chicago, World War II broke out, and he enlisted in the United States Navy. During the war he served on-board the aircraft carrier U.S.S Ticonderoga in the Pacific theater as a Radio/Radar Operator - Aircrewman in a Grumman Avenger torpedo bomber, seeing action in several campaigns, including the battle of Iwo Jima. After the war, Richard met and fell in love with Shirley Jean Hoban, also from Chicago, and they were married in 1948. After he graduated from the University of Illinois with a degree in electrical engineering, they moved to Cedar Rapids, Iowa where he was employed by Collins Radio Company. Not long after, their first child, Richard Jr. was born, and eventually the family added two daughters, Nancy and Patricia. Richard’s career at Collins was highlighted by many years working in the space program. Collins Radio Co. built the communications equipment for the X-15, Mercury, Gemini and Apollo missions, and as Program Manager, he was responsible for the administration and manufacture of this equipment. These were exciting times, highlighted by trips to Cape Canaveral, being interviewed on TV, and meeting several of the astronauts. After the space program was terminated in the early 70’s, the Valentine Family re-located to Pinellas County, Florida, and Richard continued working in the space program field at Electronic Communications, Inc. and Honeywell until his retirement. Richard Jr., who had always had a love for cars, became interested in sports car racing in his early teens. At his insistence, Junior and Senior went to their very first race at Greenwood Raceway south of Des Moines, Iowa, thus beginning a decades-long love for racing. Both Richard’s joined the Sports Car Club of America and became nationally licensed race officials, working events like the Daytona 24 Hour and Sebring 12 Hour races for many years. Richard also became the Chief of the Grid for the Central Florida Region, Sports Car Club of America, and was eventually inducted into their Hall of Fame. In his retirement years, Dick and Jean enjoyed traveling to see their grandchildren, and going to Ticonderoga reunions where he was able to re-connect with his old shipmates. After 58 years of marriage, Shirley Jean passed away in March, 2006. Above all else, Richard was most proud of his family and his grand and great grandchildren. In honoring his memory here, the family wishes to express their profound gratitude to him for being the caring husband, father and provider that he was. There will be no memorial service. He will be interred at Serenity Gardens Memorial Park in Largo with Shirley Jean. The family requests that any donations be made to Suncoast Hospice (www.thehospice.org).
- Claude Philo Valentine, Father
- Edith Caroline Valentine, Mother
- Edith Lindgren, Sister
- Dorothy Bowles, Sister
- Shirley Jean Valentine, Wife
- Richard, Jr., Son
- Nancy -, Daughter
- Patricia -, Daughter
granddaughters; Heather, Melonie, Nicole and Stephanie
great-granddaughters; Irish and Lilly
great-grandsons; Aben, Zachary and Corbin.
- Suncoast Hospice
Richard Wheeler Valentine
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June 8, 2018
I met Mr. Valentine in 2013 at Lake Seminole Square. My brother, Nick, was very close with him when he worked there and when I started working there Mr. Valentine took me under his wing. He told me so many stories about his life, his family, and the love story he shared with his wife. Every day he would come to the dining room and look for me so we can talk or to take a walk around LSS. He will be truly missed.